Block Schedule Addresses Pressure, Anxiety

Isabel Owens, Staff Writer

Many middle schools and high schools have abandoned traditional class scheduling in favor of block scheduling, a form of scheduling in which students attend fewer, but longer classes each day.

There are several common forms of block scheduling: the alternate day schedule, in which students attend 4 alternating classes every day for 90 minute periods; the 4 times 4 semester plan, where students meet for 4 90-minute blocks every day, with blocks alternating quarters; and the trimester plan, in which students take 2 or 3 different courses every 60 days.

Several high schools in the Bay Area practice block scheduling. The Urban School of San Francisco exercises the trimester plan with 3 12-week terms, divided into fall, winter, and spring. There are 4 classes each term, and due to the longer classes, one term is equivalent to one semester.

College Park has also implemented a unique form of block scheduling. Students attend all periods on Monday, periods 1, 3, and 5 on Tuesday and Thursday, and periods 2, 4, and 6 on Wednesdays and Fridays.

I believe that Campolindo should consider adopting the alternate day schedule. Students wouldn’t have the pressure of completing an entire course in a single semester or quarter, but would still receive the benefits of having fewer class periods each day. With less homework each day and an extra day between classes, students would be less fraught with anxiety, and could focus upon studying subjects in greater detail, rather than completing each homework assignment just to make it to the next day.

In my opinion, block scheduling promotes individualized instruction, as teachers see fewer students each day, and are consequentially able to grade more papers and focus individually upon more students. Due to longer periods, students and teachers also have more time for planning and working in class.

Some students, myself included, believe that a less fragmented curriculum would advance their chances of college admittance.  In 2008, students at Mt. Eden High School protested against changing their block schedule system to a traditional period system, saying that it would ruin their chances of admittance to top-notch universities. “I have high hopes for the future of my education, and a period schedule would severely hurt,” said AP student and junior Nathan Childress, in an article for The Daily Review by Eric Kurhi.

Others complain that under the alternate day schedule, there is a lack of continuity from day to day, and when a student misses one day of school, they have to make up a workload equivalent to 2 days. A downside to the 4 times 4 schedule and trimester plan is that information covering an entire year is crammed into a quarter or semester. On the other hand, students who have failed classes have a chance within the same school year to re-earn their credits in this system.

I agree that certain forms of block scheduling, namely the trimester plan and 4 times 4 semester plan, do have their downsides.

In my experience, I have been swamped with work after missing even a single day of school, and the consequence of being absent would be much greater with longer periods. However, there would also be fewer classes, and therefore, less homework and fewer tests to make up.

The positive aspects of block scheduling outweigh the negative. With 7 50-minute periods a day, and hours of homework, far too much is expected of high school-ers. We often stay up late to complete projects or essays, and are unable to finish the homework for other classes. With only 4 classes a day, students wouldn’t have to sacrifice their grade in math in order to save their score in English.

It often seems that classes are unable to cover the expected work in only 50 minutes. With longer class periods, students wouldn’t have to rush at the end of class to complete the day’s work, and then be blamed by teachers for running out of time. They would be able to finish the work in class, so it wouldn’t be added to their already hefty pile of homework.

Junior Brandon Webb believes that Campolindo should adopt the 4 times 4 block scheduling system. “I feel like it would help us be able to plan out time and have more time to do work,” he said. Because the longer, fewer classes mimic those of college, he thinks that it would prepare him for the future.

After experiencing block scheduling at her previous high school, Burnaby North Secondary, freshman Grace Shi believes that Campolindo should consider adopting this setup. “Personally, I like the block schedule because of the efficiency of not having to move around as much and really focusing in on the lesson,” she said. “It allowed for more concentration and work time, as well as more time to efficaciously complete our assignments.”

Freshman Angela Zhang, a student currently at Burnaby North Secondary, would rather not stray from her school’s practice of block scheduling. “I’d rather have 4 97-minute classes. I cannot handle that many different subjects in one day, plus then homework is due the next day,” she said.

Despite the few drawbacks to block scheduling, I believe that both Campolindo students and teachers would benefit from the implementation of this modern, managable schedule.